Steve Yzerman has stated that he doesn’t want to raid the Detroit Red Wings. And yet, of the three individuals that have been linked to the Tampa Bay Lightning via rumors – Kevin Dineen as a coach, Ryan Martin as their capologist, and Pat Verbeek as a pro scout – all of them come from the Red Wings. Which, really, shouldn’t be as any surprise to anyone.
While it’s a nice thought, and I’m sure that Yzerman’s being very genuine in saying that he doesn't want to raid the Red Wings, the reality is that he’s spent his entire professional career – both on and off the ice – with that team. He knows the people in that organization the best. And he's probably the most comfortable with them, too, because they share a common background.
The alternative is to hire people based upon their resume, reputation, and interview – which, of course, is how the majority of people in the world get jobs. We all know that. But for a first-time boss, that can be a pretty intimidating process to do. It might take a little while for Yzerman to reach that level of confidence.
And that’s what this is about: confidence. In order to hire the right employees, you have to be confident in your ability to read people and create office chemistry. And, as most of us know, that can be a tricky thing. Athletes are able to shelve personal feelings for the sake of the team. But people in office environments? Yeah, not so much.
Also remember that Yzerman went from being a player – where people told him where to go, what to do, and how to do things for years – to a management position where he was still being told what to do. His first taste of running a show all on his own was the Team Canada Olympic gig. But even still, he was doing that in concert with many others, including Hockey Canada.
With the Lightning, it’s all him and only him. He has no one to fall back on. Owner Jeff Vinik has stated that he’s leaving all of the hockey stuff up to Yzerman.
So of course he’s going to go with the familiar. Will the Lightning turn into the Red Wings South? Very possibly; at least until Yzerman gets a feel for how he wants to do things and is confident enough to strike out on his own and do exactly that. Frankly, there are worse teams to emulate.
Of course, it won’t stay that way. Yzerman’s too smart and too much of his own person to be satisfied with just copying another team. He’ll want his own team fashioned in his own way, and likely sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, being the Red Wings South might not be too bad – for a little while, at least.